My dad didn't like to talk about it, but occasionally you could get something out of him..He was on a tank recon near a woods when a nest of Germans came out of the woods to blow uup the tank, his buddy went for the hatch, dad didn't have time so he dove under the tank.The Germans blew up the tank, it killed his buddy, but he didn't get I njured at all..
I can dredge up very few from my dad, one of his half-brothers, some uncles and fathers of folks I grew up with. Mostly though they did not talk much about the war and the only time I can remember hearing it discussed, I mean combat, was when us kids were hanging around un-noticed. One story I overheard my uncle talk about dealt with GI behavior and retribution after they got the word about the Malmeday Massacre. I will keep this one to myself as it is very ugly. My grandfathers brother (great uncle I guess?) was in the Marines and had a ton of photos form when they were in Nicaragua fighting the Sandinista. Some of the pics were extremely graphic and when his wife discovered us kids going through them she hit the ceiling. Never saw them again.... Uncle "Whitey" gave us a going over for getting into his stuff "unauthorized".
My father served as a medic with the 69th Infantry. The division didn't enter until just after the Bulge. Siegfied Line...Kassel...Leipzig.. Torgau (Elbe).
Whenever he recalled the street fighting it was always about him sending two litters across a street. Half way across, a machine gun located in a building on one end opened up and killed the guys with the stretchers.
That always ended with a long period of quiet reflection. I believe he blamed himself.
Another was about a farmhouse pinned down with a machine gun. Using a ditch located behind the house he crawled several times to retrieve wounded. At a high window in the back, he piled frozen German bodies up to get in and out the window. Then out the ditch that ran through a open field. His brigade commander gave him a bottle cognac. He said he didn't tell him they had found it the day before and had already helped themselves.
The problems with having white on his helmet that required keeping it covered with mud...snipers.
The Germans retreating from the Russians begging to be taken prisoner. Seeing Germans chained together and executed by the Russians.
Climbing a tank to get to wounded inside he realized a German 88 and crew was watching him...they never fired.
He often told of a 2LT who had is knee cap shot off and he had it wrapped with his pistol belt. Refused to leave the line.
My grandfather told me of a few. Right after the Battle of the Bulge as the Germans were retreating, they were advancing in tanks on a German position. My grandfather was a 1st Lieut and his best buddy was a 2nd. They were standing up in their tank turrets observing the field at the beginning of the advance. They started taking shells from the Germans. My grandfather just said to his buddy that they should go under when the buddy took a direct shell at the turret. He was blown up and all that was recovered was from the torso down. My grandfather was watching as it took place.
That same evening, they took defensive positions for the night. At some point during the night, the Germans fired two shells at my grandfather's tank and that was it-two shells. One of them hit very close and knocked my grandfather out of wherever he was sleeping in the tank. In the morning, they opened the hatch and the impact crater from the close shell extended underneath their tank tracks. A close call.
Finally, I had a relative who was KIA in Vietnam on May 31st 1968. He was point man on a sweep through an area where they were-Quang Tri or Quang Tin-I don't exactly recall the name. But he was killed by small arms fire to the head by an enemy who was hidden up in a tree nearby. The rest of his guys got the enemy guy, but obviously too late.
My wife's uncle was KIA in Western Germany on April 15, 1945. Three weeks before VE Day. His family was told he was killed by sniper fire. He is one of the heros of WWII. He was 21 years old. He gave his life so others could be free. He is buried at the American Military Cemetary in Margraten, Netherlands.
My wifes father has a brother named Paul. Paul fought in Germany in WWII and in the 1950s he wrote and published a book about his experience. I read the book several years ago and can't remember all the details.
One of his stories involved his unit capturing a much larger German unit. They had them all lined up and coming forward 1 at a time to put down any weapons they had left on them and to state name/rank and basically surrender. Paul was the one receiving them.
A German officer came forward and said he refused to surrender to a person of lesser rank. Paul sent a courier to his commanding officer asking what to do @ this guy. Message came back saying basically "I'm up to my eyeballs and don't have time for this, figure it out".
Now the whole line is stalled, this German officer is getting puffed up, and his entire unit was starting to get a bit antsy. Paul and his guys were getting nervous b/c the Germans outnumbered them significantly. They were concerned if the Germans realized how small their unit was it could get ugly.
He sent another courier for clarification, he didn't know what to do. Message came back with the words "Take care of it".
So he did. He demanded again for the officer to surrender formally, the German officer again refused. So Paul pulled out his side-arm and shot the guy point blank. Right there in front of all the German soldiers and the men in his own unit.
That was the end of that- the rest of them lined up nicely.
In his book he said across his whole experience in WWII, that was (for him) the most harrowing. He was convinced the longer that officer held out the greater the risk the much larger German unit would realize they were basically being tricked into surrendering by a handful of our guys, and if it had "gone south" so to say, his (Pauls) unit would have had no chance.
Another one from a Finnish perspective. Good friend of mine from Finland, his grandfather fought the Russians in WWII.
Finland was outnumbered/outgunned significantly, but they put up a heck of a fight. His grandfather was on a guerilla-team to ambush Soviets, they lived in the forest for months during the Finnish winter, had to raid captured Soviets for food and ammo/arms. There were no reinforcements, no supplies. They were on their own.
His most vivid recollection was after early morning ambushes on Soviets in the cold winter air of a Finnish morning. He said the fresh Soviet corpses would give off steam from blood (it was probably -20 to -40 degrees out). If they ambushed a large unit the steam would actually create a fog/mist through the forest, that smelled like blood/gore.
The guy had nightmares about that for decades. They hadn't heard of PTSD yet.
He later became a police chief in a town on the Finnish/Russian border. Any Russians who got caught for anything by his police force, let's just say this guy hated Russians..... As do most Finns.
A Pennsylvania Warrior - Medal of Honor winner, Delta Force Operator SFC Randy Shughart. Randy and I both served in Delta but my time was coming to an end, age was catching up with me and it was time to consider retirement. Although I did deploy to Somalia and was part of Task Force Ranger I was not a part of this operation - "Gothic Serpent".
After an Apache Helicopter went down due to RPG and small arms damage caused by the insurgents, Randy and two other Delta Force members were nearby in another Apache. They responded to the downed aircraft and provide some coverage for men in the downed aircraft. They then noticed a large group of insurgents bearing down on the aircraft and asked permission to be inserted on the ground to confronts the enemy. Their request was denied several times as being too dangerous. I don't know if permission was granted or they just said the he77 with it. They were inserted about 100 yards away from the downed aircraft and fought their way to the downed aircraft and defended it and the pilot until both he and his team mate were killed. It is said that he was responsible for killing well over 25 of the insurgents.
Randy's father attended the Medal of Honor presentation ceremony at the White House, where he refused to shake hands with U.S. President Bill Clinton. He then proceeded to openly criticize the President saying, "You are not fit to be President of the United States. The blame for my son's death rests with this White House and you. You are not fit to command."
Randy is buried in Westminster Cemetery, Carlisle, PA. If you ever in the area please visit with him and tell him an old soldier out in the desert said: Well done my brother in arms.
Fate whispers to the warrior, "You cannot withstand the storm. And the warrior whispers back, "I am the storm"